Sky’s F1 coverage increases to 2016 high

The 2016 German Grand Prix may not have been the most spectacular race of the year so far, but it did help Sky Sports hit a 2016 high where its Formula 1 coverage was concerned, overnight viewing figures show.

Live coverage of the race, broadcast across Sky Sports 1 and F1 from 12:00 to 15:30, averaged 932k (11.8%). Even taking into account the simulcast on Sky Sports 1, that is a really strong number, the highest for a European based round for Sky since the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which averaged 963k (7.1%). The audience was split 75:25 across Sky’s channels: 700k (8.9%) on the F1 channel compared with 232k (2.9%) on Sky Sports 1.

Sky’s audience peaked with 1.47m (17.4%) at 14:30, the highest for a European based round since the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix. Considering the race was a largely dull, the numbers are higher than what I expected for Sky by some margin. A 17 percent share for an event on pay-TV is impressive. Okay, this includes Sky Sports 1, but I would argue that simulcasting Sky Sports 1 makes no difference to the overall number, although it will be interesting to see if Sky’s number drops further than expected come Spa.

Channel 4’s highlights, broadcast from 18:00 to 20:00, averaged 2.27m (14.1%). This is their second highest highlights audience of the season; a meagre 12,000 viewers lower than their Austria highlights show! Their coverage peaked with 2.86m (16.2%) at 19:30, also slightly down on their Austria figure.

The combined average audience of 3.20 million viewers is the highest of 2016 so far, surpassing the previous highest of Austria. The combined peak of 4.33 million is the second highest of 2016, only behind Britain. However, we do not escape the fact that the combined average and peak is still the lowest since 2006 for Germany (albeit 2012 is not a million miles away).

Live coverage of qualifying, broadcast across Sky Sports 1 and F1 from 12:00 to 14:35, averaged 447k (6.7%). Channel 4’s coverage averaged 1.24m (9.8%) from 17:45 to 19:30, resulting in a combined audience of 1.69 million viewers.

After a slight dip in Hungary, the trajectory is upwards… slowly. The past four races have all recorded peak audiences of above 4 million viewers. That is a good sign, it appears having four races in five weekends has helped maintain momentum. Whilst Lewis Hamilton leading the championship is a good, a comfortable lead for him will send viewing figures decreasing again. So, there is a balancing act to be had.

Spa is next on the calendar. Belgium tends to be low, more often than not below three million viewers. There is a slight chance that the audience could hold up more over on Channel 4, and that Spa could pose the first chance for 2016 to realistically beat 2015 in the TV audience figures, maybe.

The 2014 German Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

6 thoughts on “Sky’s F1 coverage increases to 2016 high

  1. I can only put this down to post Silverstone glory hunting from Sun Readers.

    Sky’s coverage hit a new low in can’t be arsed.

    Lazenby didn’t know which race he was at.
    VT content was a 2nd hand Ad piece.
    Brundle did zero prep for his grid walk and was an embarrassment.
    Croft got so many bits of commentary wrong I don’t have the time or the energy to list them.
    Post simulcast you felt like a second class citizen watching a webcast.

    I really do fear for the future of the sport in the UK.

    Sky are either the most incompetent presentation team in the world or they’re obsessed with attracting new contract sign-ups from football fans.

    Whatever their ethos, they continue to alienate grass roots fans away from the sport with zero regard from the implosion stalking the sport in the UK.

    1. I guess you’ve never seen Martin’s grid walk before then?

      It’s always zero prep. You can’t prepare for the madness that is the F1 grid. Most of the time it’s luck.

      1. The grid walk is always a farce, nowadays, The cars take position, the driver goes for a pee, and as soon as they come back they have to go to the front to watch someone singing praises to the great leader. There are hardly any team principles on the grid apart from Horner and Lauda, so the only potential interviewees are boy band members and footballers. Gripping stuff.

  2. Looking at the numbers, they simply show that most of Sky’s numbers are coming from devoted fans – after the 2019 announcement. Channel 4’s numbers are as good as they are going to get, but shows that with strong advertising, casual viewers will watch. In it’s current state, I think a few Grand Prix would have peaked with 5/6 million if on BBC1. Channel 4 have done a great job so far, would like to see them continue with Highlights in 2019, but will accept any broadcaster. As said previously, I have seen many forms of broadcasts and some that most people would laugh at nowadays, e.g. 10 minute report on ITV World of Sport a week after the race. I understand why people don’t like the BBC for their dodgy deal, but believe it’s the home of F1 and always will be, even with just radio coverage.

    1. For the life of me I do not understand why FTA broadcasters cannot achieve the same viewing figures. Their reach is effectively the same so it’s either the fact that the million plus viewers that C4 have lost are not real F1 fans or that C4 just produce a piss poor show. When you compare pay TV to FTA there are logical reasons for variations in viewing figures, but not for FTA v FTA.

      I remember having to stay up until 11.30 at night to watch 30 minutes of highlights, the problem now is that the BBC have lost all credibility when it comes to sport, other than the sport they have to cover as part of their Charter.

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